Jude: 4 Years Old

On April 28th Jude turned 4 years old.

IMG_5063At 4 Jude is an outgoing little chatterbox.

IMG_5119He loves make-believe, telling stories, and helping us out.

IMG_4225Jude is a total go-getter. He walks around on the tips of his toes looking for what’s next.

IMG_4273His curious and very persistent. Jude doesn’t stop until he gets an answer. (He does a great Pout, Pout Fish face).

IMG_8687Jude spends most of his day in a high gear and the only time he switches to low gear is when he is watching a show or is sick.

IMG_5205Poor Jude got really sick several days before we left Taiwan.

IMG_4470Thankfully it came after our last few playdates with friends. Here’s a photo of Jude and I teaching our friends the ‘Banana Song’ before he got sick.

IMG_4230And by the time we touched down in Wellington he was back to normal.

IMG_4648We stopped at a Farm show in Rotorua and when they asked for kid volunteers, Jude jumped right up and had no worries about being on stage in front of hundreds of strangers.

IMG_5155This year has been a great one for Jude and Toby’s relationship. Jude directs their imaginary play and Toby gets right into it.

IMG_5143Their personalities are pretty much exactly opposite but the bond they feel as brothers is so strong.

IMG_8640We were in Thames for Jude’s Birthday which meant we got to celebrate with family and friends. A day before the 28th we visited some old friends we knew in Taipei who have a son born one week after Jude. So we had cake with them to celebrate.

IMG_5494And then on Jude’s actual birthday after opening his present from us (mini transformers) we went over to Granddad and Val’s house for more cake.

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IMG_5541Then back in Thames that night for cupcakes.

And finally on Saturday we went over to Aunt Abby and Uncle Brad’s for a big party with the Aunties, Uncles, cousins, and Grandmama.

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IMG_5578Four years has flown by and we continue to feel so blessed to have this kid in our lives. Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

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Toby: 2 Years Old (HBD!)

Toby turned 2 years old on 3 October.

img_9346He started school the same day.

img_9314Starting school has been a breeze thanks to having big brother there by his side.

img_6865Everyday Jude walks Toby up to his classroom. No tears or clinging to Mom. They hug and kiss me and are off. It’s a wonderful feeling to leave happy kids.

img_6866Toby’s teacher, Miss Kitty, says that the first thing Toby does everyday is paint.

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She sends us a weekly email with photos and info on what he’s been up to.

p1440235They go on field trips once a week, which she said Toby just loves.

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They also bake bread or some kind of of snack almost everyday.p1440850Toby tells me about all his friends. Miss Kitty said he is very chatty with them even though they are speaking different languages.

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It seems like the right thing for Toby at the right time. I pick them up at Noon everyday and they are excited to share all the things they did.

img_9328Apart from school, Toby is all about his bike and scooter. He has mastered the scooter and now is really mastering the balance bike. He’s going down hills and getting quite fast. When we run errands, he insists on riding his bike while Jude and I walk.

img_9091At 2 years old Toby is an awesome sleeper. He doesn’t always get to bed on time as him and Jude are so chatty. He loves his cloud pillow from Ikea (which he calls his ‘sunshine’). He loves lots of blankets and things to cuddle with.

img_9229He is a fantastic eater. We haven’t had any mealtime battles with him yet. The only issue is that he won’t eat a green veggie when it is out in the open on its own. So I dice them up and add them to rice or pasta and they go down just fine. img_8970He loves to draw and paint. He will happily sit for an hour working on a picture.

img_8925He loves water – bath time and swimming. I took the boys swimming earlier this month and Toby was a total independent little fish. He has his little wings on and was happily floating around and dunking under without a worry.

img_9020Toby is really into his things. He likes to have hats on this head or sunglasses and keep them on. He carries his sunshine pillow around all morning and then slowly piles more things into his arms. He inevitably starts dropping things and then cries because he get it back into his grip. So I have started giving him a little bag to put his things in. I know its normal at this age. He is not interested in sharing with Jude and feels comforted by his possessions.

img_9046Toby can still throw great fits. He is so much better than before but he can still really make it rain. We get a lot of crocodile tears from him and it’s usually something Jude has done to upset him.

img_8977But Toby has matured a lot, even things like haircuts (which used to be unbearable) are no problem now.

img_9365Toby  can be shy around people but he is outgoing when it comes to trying new things. He’s fearless on the playground. He loves climbing high and going down big slides.

img_8687Toby loves being helpful, and since school has started he has been refusing to let me help him do things for him, like put on or take off his shoes. It’s been awesome. He’s getting better and better at pulling his pants up after the potty.

img_8733At 2, Jude is still the center of Toby’s universe. He loves his brother so much. I hope this bond never changes between them. They are always looking out for one another. If I give Toby a snack he will immediately ask where Jude’s snack is. If Toby falls down Jude will cry out for him as he is so upset by Toby being in pain.

img_9072Toby’s actual birthday was a bit crazy this year as I was in hospital due to a burst ovarian cyst. Despite the drama, we still managed to celebrate his bday spread out over the week.  img_9277Once I was recovered, I baked this. Toby is our little dinosaur. He loves to ‘roarrrrr’.

img_9342We invited best buddy Jessica over to celebrate with us and we all had a great time.

img_9376Happy Birthday, Toby! We love you!

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Jude: 3 Years Old

How can it be that this little peanut is now 3 years old?IMG_5369Jude has been such an incredible son. We sometimes can’t believe he is ours.

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He has such a fun-loving, outgoing personality. He wants to be involved in everything. He knows how to make people smile and laugh like I’ve never seen before. Everyone loves Jude as he is just so lovable. He loves to run, pretend to be a superhero and help me cook. His imagination is growing by the day and now he can tell us stories.

IMG_4406Jude has been an amazing big brother to Toby. He’s already taught Toby so much and it’s so awesome to see all the patience and love he has for him.

IMG_4682Jude has been so lucky to have best buddy Kate in his life. This past year these two have spent pretty much everyday together.

IMG_4445They’ve had quite the impact on one another and it certainly feels like Jude will lose a sister when she moves away at the end of June.

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IMG_4352Jude started at 1/2 day Montessori preschool when he turned 3.

IMG_4612It’s been hard for Toby but the best thing ever for Jude. He LOVES it.

IMG_4502He comes home most days with a painting. He is always so proud to show us what he’s done.

IMG_4692I took the boys out for donuts after Jude’s first day.

IMG_4621He has an amazing teacher and the Montessori model seems to really fit Jude’s personality. The school is Chinese-speaking which will be the biggest challenge but he’s already starting to say a few phrases and every asked for books in Chinese.

After school I bring the boys home and feed them lunch and quickly get them down for nap. It’s a new schedule to adjust to but so far it’s been working out. The afternoons we spend at the playground with friends- riding scooters and kicking balls.

IMG_4340For Jude’s actual birthday (on the 28th) we kicked it off with McDonald’s pancakes.

IMG_4633And ended the day with a rocketship cake.

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The weekend after his bday we had a big party with all his friends (co-hosted with his friend Amanda). I had to make yet another rocket ship cake plus cupcakes. It was raining so we skipped the park and had it in our basement. Everyone had a great time. Here are some of the photos.

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Happy Birthday Dear Jude! We love you to the moon and back (and sun and back, and stars and back, and mars and back…).

Toby’s 1st Birthday Celebrations

We had two birthday celebrations for Toby’s birthday. The first was for his playground buddies. We kept it very low-key. The most time consuming thing was making the cupcakes. I spent some time thinking about what to theme Toby’s cupcakes as for Jude’s 1st birthday I made him an Elmo cake. Toby doesn’t like any particular character or animal so there was nothing that really stood out. Then it struck me that Toby doesn’t need an icon because Toby IS his own icon. Toby has such a big personality – everyone has something to say about Toby and his ways. So I went and printed out photos of Toby for his cupcakes.

IMG_4996Everyone loved the cupcakes and toppers. Although, I had some comments that perhaps it should have been a photo of Toby crying!

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IMG_9471We played and celebrated Toby for a few hours and even managed to get a few nice-ish group shots!

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IMG_5148Right before we were about to Toby decided to shove about 9 grapes in his mouth. Lucky I noticed his cheeks looking bigger than usual. I gave them a squeeze and all the grapes came out in a big splat. It was the perfect ‘oh, Toby’ moment to finish off the party.

IMG_5154On Toby’s actual birthday we kicked off the day with McDonald’s pancakes. Both boys are crazy for them.

IMG_9540Later in the afternoon we had some friends round to play.

IMG_9557The kids had dinner while the parents had drinks.

IMG_9569And after we had cake. Again, the theme being Toby.

IMG_9556Jude helped blow out Toby’s candle and we dug in.

IMG_9574And after attempted more photos.

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Toby and Mercy (who came up with his ‘Chang, Chang’ nickname).

IMG_9586Lastly, the four of us.

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Jude: 2 Years Old

Jude is 2!

IMG_4899In so many ways it seems like he should be a lot older. The things he’s learned in just 2 years is really incredible!

IMG_4847Our 2 year old Jude is rarely ever seen without car or construction vehicle in his hand or close by. Most meltdowns happen when he either: sees a car at a store and we won’t let him buy it,  wants another kids car that won’t let him have it, or when we won’t let him bring 7 cars into the crib with him (usually including his giant dump truck).

IMG_4694We love his enthusiasm and do manage to get him to engage in some non-car related activities like bike rides,

IMG_4707bug hunting,

IMG_5183basketball,

IMG_5029and donut eating.

IMG_5053But he really is at his happiest when he is outside in the dirt with his fleet.

IMG_4882The words are continuing to explode from his mouth. He can put together so many phrases and instructions. He can direct Luke and I during playtime. ‘Dad sit’, ‘Dad push’, ‘Mom do’, ‘Baby NO’, etc. He has picked up so many things from me like ‘how about this’, when we are deciding what to play or eat.

IMG_5043He can play for much longer periods on his own mostly making his cars and trucks talk to each other but a few times this month I caught him going into his room to read alone. This was a first!

IMG_5159_2Our biggest discipline problem with Jude at the moment is him running away from us at the park. I am totally cool with him running but its when he runs towards the street or when its time to go home that I get pretty short with him. He’s fast and I’m usually holding or pushing Toby so it usually ends in my dragging him home under my arm and into time out.

IMG_5093He’s picked up all sorts of funny things like whispering nonsense into our ears, pretending to find bugs and feed them to us, and wanting to play pretend sleep.

IMG_4979On vacation cousin Robby introduced us to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song and now Jude is obsessed with it and the show. He asks for ‘Hotdog song’ all the time and will often randomly call out ‘Ohhh Toodles’.

IMG_4839When Jude wakes up he’s usually not too hungry. He’d prefer to have a bit of milk and play instead. So we’ve gotten into the habit of stopping at 7-11 for a steamed bun on our way to the market after Dad leaves for work.

IMG_5141Jude is really getting the hang of all the big brother stuff. It’s so awesome watching them together. I won’t ever forget all the tough times we had in the first few months but it has certainly been worth it as these two have already developed a very close and special bond.

IMG_5148Something new this month we have been practicing a lot this month is sharing. If Jude wants something Toby has he says ‘Baby share?’ and then will swap a toy with Toby. It’s been going quite well so far and last weekend he had me help him facilitate a ‘share’ at the sandpit with another toddler.

IMG_5119_2We celebrated his birthday as a family on the weekend before his birthday. I made a cake and then crumpled it up in the back of his dump truck along with frosting, Oreo crumbs, and worms.

IMG_5175_2The cake was a big hit. Jude kept thanking Dump for the cake!

IMG_5191_2We decided the new rule will be one present for birthdays. This year we decided to get Jude a push tricycle and he hates it! I am learning that just because he wants to ride on everyone else’s bike doesn’t mean he wants one. Other people’s stuff is much more desirable! Anyhow, it was a fail so we decided we will re-gift it to Toby on his 1st birthday.

 

IMG_5180On Jude’s actual birthday we had a party in the park with his friends. I’ll do a post on that later as it was such a fun afternoon.

IMG_5241Happy Birthday, Jude! We love you.

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Jude’s 1st Birthday

I spent the evening of April 27th getting messy with red food coloring.

IMG_3401Because on the 28th it was time for Jude’s 1st Birthday and of course he needed an Elmo cake!

IMG_3424He was pretty excited when he saw it but would have to wait until the end of the day to devour his Sesame Street buddy.

IMG_3436So instead we started the day with his favorite – scrambled eggs.

IMG_3433With his adorable Birthday onesie on (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!) he got to work vacuuming.

IMG_3444And then was serenaded ‘Happy Birthday’ over Skype.

IMG_3449Grandpa blew bubbles to celebrate,

IMG_3451And Grandma baked a cake.

IMG_3453We walked Luke to work and did a mini-photoshoot after we parted ways with him. Taipei 101:

IMG_3469And the Love sculpture:

IMG_3463‘No more photos, Mom’:

IMG_3468So we hit the first playground of the day – the indoor one at the Xinyi Sports Center.

IMG_3470After morning nap and close to lunchtime, we biked over the Luke’s work (you can see how thrilled Jude is about his pink helmet).

IMG_3474For lunch we went to this place with an indoor play area. Jude was right into it.

IMG_3483He took a break to eat,

IMG_3489and then got right back in.

IMG_3488After afternoon nap we had more playground time.

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IMG_3507And even made a new friend.

IMG_3518Back home I tried to get a few more photos in his cute birthday outfit.

IMG_3527We even attempted a selfie.

IMG_3537Jude was getting tired fast.

IMG_3533Dad got home and re-injected a bit of energy into the Birthday Boy. We Skyped with Grandma Elizabeth and Faith- he was loving all the attention!

IMG_3542And finally, it was time for cake.

IMG_3547We sang,

IMG_3550and sang,

IMG_3553Took one last photo,

IMG_3555And then dug in to Elmo’s eyeballs.

IMG_3557Yum.

IMG_3560Belly full of cake:

IMG_3578Jude had a few bday gifts to open from Aunt Jen and Uncle Rob.

IMG_3591He loved the books – especially the Elmo peek-a-boo one!

IMG_3587What a great day it was!

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30

My 30th Birthday was last Sunday. I spent the morning like this:

IMG_0129Finally getting dressed to enjoy brunch at The Diner:

IMG_9925My first meal as 30 looked like this:

IMG_9927We returned home and found this cake on our doorstep:

IMG_9955Our wonderful friend made this and it was full of all the things I like.

IMG_9970Another friend dropped these off:

IMG_9964And later that night Luke and I toasted to a new decade.

IMG_9973My actual birthday was just the start of the celebration. On Tuesday a big box arrived from my Mom and Dad with this inside:

IMG_0065I also got a new iPhone from Luke (perfect for selflies of my 30 year-old-self):

IMG_0172Luke and I got all dressed up one night, got the babysitter in, and went to dinner at Osteria.

IMG_0176We ordered the Chef’s special set menu. It was amazing.

IMG_0182We were really impressed with all the components of each dish – super well thought out.

IMG_0188Dessert was the best tiramisu I have ever had.

IMG_0194It feels good be 30!

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Luke’s Birthday

Jude is 3 weeks old today.  Time has really flown by – he changes so much every day. My parents have just left after visiting for a week. It was wonderful to have them here spending time with their grandson. I will do a post on their visit but before I do I have to post about another special occasion – Luke’s birthday.

Having just had a baby certainly overshadowed the whole occasion. I usually put a lot of thought and planning into birthdays but having Jude on board meant I had to wing it today. In the morning I made Luke’s favorite, pancakes, while Jude sat happily in his bouncy chair. When Luke went out for a swim I quickly put some decorations up on the wall while holding Jude in one arm.

IMG_5902Later in the day, in between naps and Skype sessions, I was able to get most of dinner ready and the cake baked.

I put the finishing touches on the cake with Jude strapped to my chest.

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I made a banana cake with a chocolate frosting.

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We couldn’t find any matches to light the candles but we still sang and Luke pretended to blow out the candles.

After cake I fed Jude and then put him down to sleep in his crib. Goose and Fern babysat while Luke and I got to hang out a bit and reminisce over how much has changed since his last birthday.

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January: the Month of Birthdays

January is a month full of birthdays. In addition to mine, there my is Dad’s, Luke’s Mum (her 50th, in fact!), his sister Pearl’s and his brother Ben’s. I can also count at least six of our friends who celebrated bdays. January is clearly a popular month to be born.

My 29th birthday was on January 19th. On the day I woke up and baked myself a cake. Luke offered to bake or buy me one, but I insisted on doing it myself. The reason being there was a cake recipe I was itching to try out.

IMG_3630It’s a Neapolitan cake and, like the ice cream, consists of three layers of cake: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. So I baked each individual layer.

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Spread strawberry jam between each layer and then frosted it with a cream cheese frosting.

IMG_3632Yes, it tasted as good as it looks.

That evening Luke and I had reservations at a steakhouse. This was my first Birthday in over 15 years that I was no longer a vegetarian so I was really keen to try a really nice steakhouse. So after some research we decided on No. 168 Prime Steakhouse. Next door to the restaurant is a large shopping mall, complete with a giant ferris wheel. We arrived a bit early so walked around before our reservations.

IMG_3597Once inside the restaurant we were immediately shown to our seats and the hostess, noticing that I was pregnant, brought me a pillow to place behind my back! After scoping out the menu we decided to go for the set menus, which included an appetizer, soup, main dish, side dish, dessert, and coffee or tea. There was a good 5 or 6 different choices for each item which made it difficult to choose. Luke also ordered wine pairings for his courses.

Here’s a glimpse of what we had.

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IMG_3611The food was out of this world delicious. I was blown away by the steak. I was so happy that I decided to start eating meat again, I really have been missing out!

While we were eating our desserts the staff brought around a special Birthday dessert plate. We were already so full but managed to take a few bites.

IMG_3617It was a pretty special evening – my last birthday before the baby and before the big   3-0!

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Happy Birthday Dad!

After a month of traveling I am finally back in Taipei. I have a lot to catch up on and plan to do so over the coming week.

In the meantime it’s a very special day as it’s my Dad’s birthday. So I’ll keep it short as I just wanted to chime in and say Happy Birthday Dad! We hope you have a great day celebrating!

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(Dad, Mom, and I at Christmas)

 

Love,

 

Mel and Luke